Saturday, September 5, 2015

March 17, 1886: Andrew Robertson, Charles Brown, Ed Brown, Joe Lang, John Morey, Simon Cave, William Harris, Amos Matthews, Scott Moore, French Hughes, Coley Lytle, and Jim Johnson.

Today we learn about a horrible lynching in Mississippi through the pages of The Coffeyville Weekly Journal (Coffeyville, Kansas) dated March 27, 1886:

An Awful Tragedy.

GRENADA, MISS., March 17.—News of a terrible tragedy enacted at Carrollton, an interior town six miles southwest of here, was received this evening.

Fifty men rode into the town to-day and repaired to the court house  where thirteen negroes were waiting for their trial to commence. 

The white men walked into the court room and shot ten of the negroes dead and mortally wounded the other three.

The shooting grew out of the attempted assassination of James Liddell, a prominent citizen, who was shot and seriously wounded by these negroes several weeks ago.


WINONA, Miss., March 17.—At Carrolton [sic] to-day a fearful tragedy occurred in which ten negroes were killed and three wounded.

Some weeks ago two negroes attempted to assassinate J. M. Liddell, jr., inflicting some painful but not serious wounds. The negroes engaged in this dastardly attempt are known to be the most defiant and lawless in the county, and since the attempt of Mr. Liddell's life had been more openly defiant than ever. For some reason not known they swore out a warrant a few days ago for Mr. Liddell's arrest. It was at this trial to-day that the killing occurred. The negroes present were mostly armed.


About 1 o'clock a part of armed men numbering about forty or fifty persons rode up to the court house. They dismounted and entering the building at once commenced firing on the negroes with the above result. They then returned by the same route they came. They do not live near Carrollton.

At the trial about twenty colored men were present when the fifty white men well mounted and each carrying a Winchester rifle came galloping up and surrounded the court house. They then fired into the building, instantly killing ten negroes and wounding three others, so that they died soon after and with the exception of a few who escaped through a window all the other negroes in the building were wounded, some of them seriously.


The trouble between Liddell and the negroes occurred three weeks ago. Liddell had interfered in a row between two negroes and afterward heard the crowd cursing him. He walked up to then and inquired why they were abusing him. An altercation ensued and several shots were fired, Liddell being severely wounded.


JACKSON, MISS., March 17.—It has just been reported from Carrollton county that thirteen men were killed in the court house there during a riot to-day. No particulars have as yet come to hand.

James M. Liddell, jr., a prominent young lawyer of that county,was shot and wounded about a month ago by three negroes and the trial was set for to-day.

It is supposed here that the riot was caused by the trial of the would be assassins. One negro, supposed to be implicated, was lynched two weeks ago.

There is great excitement among members of the legislature and others having friends in Carrollton.

The scene of the rioting is fourteen miles from a railroad and intelligence is slow and sparse.

Latest Particulars.

WINONA, MISS., March 18.—Some months ago Robert Moore, a young man from Leflove county, went to Carrollton. There he met Ed Brown, colored, with whom he had an altercation, and the negro smeared and poured on him molasses which he carried in a jug. J. M. Liddell, jr., of Greenwood, a friend of Moore, happened to meet with Brown and made some allusion to his treatment of Moore. Brown replied impertinently and Liddell started at him but was prevented by bystanders from attacking him. The negro then armed himself and induced others to do likewise. They stationed themselves on the street, some concealing themselves behind trees. When Liddell came after supper from the hotel he saw them and asked what they meant, whereupon Ed Brown responded that it was none of his business. At that Liddell struck at Ed Brown with his fist and Ed and Charles Brown, his brother, both simultaneously fired upon Liddell, one ball striking the elbow of his right arm. About this time some fifteen to twenty shots were fired from different quarters. Liddell pulled his pistol and hit Ed Brown in the abdomen and received one shot in the fleshly part of his leg. Charles Brown was shot in the shoulder.


The parties who had taken part in the affray were brought before the mayor forthwith, waived examination and were bailed to appear before the next circuit court. Threats were continually made by the Brown brothers that they would have Jim Liddell's blood. Further, they said that they had "five double-barrelled shot guns loaded seven fingers, and would kill the first man who put foot on their ground."

March 12 the Browns made affidavit against James Liddell and others, including some of the best citizens of the place and men who knew nothing of the difficulty, charging them with assault with intent to murder in the previous difficulty.

Previous to the opening of the trial yesterday Brown boasted on the street that he had his body guard and would shoot the first man that made a motion in his direction. The case was called at noon, when the court house was immediately filled with negroes, who stationed themselves around and about the Brown brothers. The attorneys were proceeding with the case when there suddenly appeared about 100 white men all well armed.


Perceiving their entrance Ed Brown drew his pistol and fired in the direction of Liddell, who was between his attorneys, and thereupon the firing became general. Ten negroes were instantly killed and two others have since died. Some escaped by jumping through the windows, a distance of at least twenty feet from the ground.

On most of the dead bodies arms were found. The room was completely filled with smoke.

The judge's bench is on the north side of the room and the benches facing it are toward the south. It is a very large court room with windows all around. On the south wall were counted 135 shot-holes, in the wall of  the passage leading down stairs ten shot-holes and in the benches thirty shot-holes. One shot struck the east window sash and glanced into the wall. Five other shots show on the north wall from the direction of the benches. Large pools of blood were on the floor of the court room. The mob then left as quickly and as quietly as it came.

The general impression is that this will end further trouble, as heretofore a few of the negroes killed  were constantly creating bad feeling and led other negroes, peaceably inclined, to produce strife between whites and blacks.


The good people of Carrollton deprecate all this and regret that a few innocent colored people were drawn into the fuss. The following is a list of the killed:  Andrew Robertson, Charles Brown, Ed Brown, Joe Lang, John Morey, Simon Cave, William Harris, Amos Matthews, Scott Moore, French Hughes, Coley Lytle, Jim Johnson.

The following is a list of the wounded:  Will Dodd, Jim Keys, Christian Preacher, Jim Howe, Jake Kane, very seriously; bill Ewing, Charles Price, Henry Cole and Coley Thompson; badly and reported dead. Peyton Hemingway and Walter McLoud jumped through a window carrying the sash along with them. The former received a slight shot wound in the hand but was otherwise uninjured. Amos Matthews was shot dead while trying to make his escape in the same way.

One colored man rolled himself out of one of the west windows, falling on the brick pavement outside, but got up and made his escape unhurt. As he was getting out three shots were fired at him, two of which struck the window sill and one went through the glass. All is quiet now.

The principals of the gang were Charles and Edward Brown, who were among the killed.

It is impossible to get any one to state the names of any persons in the mob, and it will be very difficult to ascertain them as nobody in the excitement took any notice of any of the persons who entered the court house. No arrests have been made.

An excerpt from an article found in The Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) dated February 24, 1886 gives a little information on the lynching that occurred two weeks before:


. . . It happened at Carrollton, Miss. Some days since an attempt was made to assassinate one William Liddell, a resident of the above place, and a negro was arrested charged with the crime. A lynching party was organized to hang him, but the Sheriff, getting wind of the affair, removed him to a place of safety. When the party arrived at the jail and found that their victim had escaped from their vengeance they took out a negro boy who had been imprisoned for killing a white boy in self-defense and hanged him to a tree. 

The Picayune's account says:

It is said that Judge Campbell, who committed the negro boy, remarked that the prisoner had made out a good case of self-defense, and had the victim been a negro and the accused a white boy he would have been instantly acquitted by a jury without leaving their seats.

Our final article comes to us through the pages of the Evening Gazette (Pittston, Pennsylvania) dated March 26, 1886:



A Most Disgraceful and Barbarous Slaughter of Over Twenty Colored Men In a Court House By One Hundred Chivalrous (?) Citizens.   

JACKSON, Miss., March 26.—The recent slaughter of negroes at Carrollton is still the all-absorbing theme of comment discussion through the state. It is universally condemned by everybody. The circuit court, Judge Campbell on the bench, is now in session there, and it is supposed that the grand jury is investigating the matter. Thus far no warrants have been sworn out and no arrests made. no actions have been taken by the state authorities looking into the ferreting out and bringing the murderers to justice. In view of the statement of Liddell's brother and the local notice of the massacre which appeared in The Carrollton Conservative, neither of which stated that the Browns began the firing, it is now generally believed that the attack by the mob was premeditated and preconcerted, and that the shooting was begun by the mob and not by the negroes. Public sentiment cries loudly for the arrest and punishment of the actors in this atrocious crime. One of the most prominent citizens of the state said that the people would sustain the governor in offering a reward of $10,000 for the capture and conviction of the culprits.

The universal comment of the press is that of condemnation. The Clarion says:  "In another place in this paper we print The Picayune's account of the horrible massacre at Carrollton, which tells how eleven citizens of Mississippi were shot to death and nine others mortally wounded. We are far from believing that this account contains 'the whole truth,' but its sickening details, with what measure of truth it does contain, present a spectacle of butchery hideous enough to curdle the blood of the most phlegmatic." The story, though terrible and ghastly, is simple. Then follows a detailed statement and analysis of the different versions of the affair, which closes by expressing the opinion that "the mob fired first and did not wait for provocation, and that Edward Brown, if he fired at all, fired at them." The editor concludes his article as follows:  "But why consume time in discussing disputed matters? Enough is admitted to damn the hideous affair. it is admitted the Browns had given bond to answer at the circuit court for any offense against the laws of the state of which they had been guilty. It is admitted that they had caused the arrest of James Liddell and others on affidavits cgarging them with a felony. It is admitted that these defendants had been arrested and were being tried by a lawful officer of the state, holding a lawful court in the very sanctuary of the law, when 100 armed men appeared upon the scene and surrounded the temple of justice and shot to death under the eye of the court eleven citizens of Mississippi and mortally wounded nine others. It is admitted that not one white man was hurt.

"It is hard to realize that there could be found in Mississippi 100 men who could be led to avenge the personal wrongs and injuries of a friend in the heartless, conscienceless and cold-blooded manner which characterized the conduct of the mob at Carrollton. It is harder still to realize that the place selected for this exhibition of hideous atrocity should be the temple of justice and at the very horns of the altar. It comes to this—that there is no place so sacred that the bloodthirsty will not enter to do their damnable deeds. If so, then indeed we are worse than heathens.

"The people of Mississippi realize that at the door of the court room in Carrollton the bloody bodies of its slain citizens lie heaped one upon another. They have not been removed. There they will stay, a monument to the foulness and wickedness of their ruthless slayers. There can be no adequate  punishment for the injury which has been inflicted upon the good people of Mississippi by the murderous mob at Carrollton. There will be no punishment of any kind. Time spent in an attempt to bring them before the bar of that temple whose sanctity they have so grossly violated would be time thrown away. We do not know who took part in the bloody deed. we do not care to know. For their sakes, would that all knowledge and all remembrance of them could be blotted out. They may be powerful and influential citizens, whose favor it were well to court and whose displeasure it were dangerous to arouse. To such considerations we can close our eyes and our ears, but we cannot be blind or deaf to the appeals of the weak, who claim and deserve our protection, nor can we be unmindful of the indelible blot that has been put on the reputation of the state.

"The people of Mississippi who do not wish to rest under the odium of acquiescence in wholesale butchery have a duty to perform. They must speak out in denunciation of all deadly assaults upon the persons of the citizens. There must be an assertion of the rights of all life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We know that a large majority of our citizens are law abiding citizens, but if they do not condemn such an outrage as that at Carrollton, the judgement they will receive and merit from the civilized world would aptly fit a nation of savages. We must reassure the negro. We must call a halt to his murderous enemies."

The Natchez Democrat, one of the oldest and most conservative journals in the state, strongly denounces the outrage, and The New Orleans Christian Advocate, edited by rev. c. b. Galloway, the most prominent and best known Methodist minister in the Mississippi valley, pronounces it the most barbarous act that ever disgraced the fair name of Mississippi. Of the matter of The Chickasaw Messenger, published at Okolona, and edited by F. Burkitt, a member of the present legislature, says:  "The massacre of thirteen negroes in the court room at Carrollton, Miss., on the 17th inst., is one of the most terrible affairs of modern times."

Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.

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